Uganda Safari – Tips for Planning

Uganda Safari - Western Uganda Wildlife Safari Trail

Tips For Planning Your Uganda Safari

Travelling to any country in Africa takes some good amount of time to prepare, plan, make payments and wait for the d-day. The whole process is not easy for first time travellers, thats why we put this information together for you to consider Gorillas and Chimps Luxury Safaris services to take you on a Uganda safari without much of a hustle on your part.

Follow our blog to get first hand updates on travelling in Uganda. A couple of videos on Youtube and Movies like Gorillas in The Mist and more have been made about Uganda. These should get you inspired to embark on a Uganda Safari.

Getting to your destinations by Air

If you are coming to Uganda on Safari the traditional Way is to fly into Entebbe International Airport and explore the country from there.

What most do not realize is this.  If you are coming to track Mountain Gorillas, then you might consider into flying into the unofficial Gateway to Southwest Uganda – Kigali International Airport.  From there it is 3 hours to Mgahinga Gorilla park and 4 1/2 hours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Most of our travellers that come in for a luxury gorilla trekking adventure choose that option for convenience.

But, there’s there the traditional Uganda safari route way where a traveller may want to enjoy the breeze and picturesque scenery of the countryside on a drive. Now, nothing can beat such an adventure. Forget about the 9 hours drive through, that’s nothing to endure. In the comfort of a well customised land cruiser, the roads have been recently paved to international standard and the immensely attractive spot en-rout to any destination, you may want to consider this option.

There are local carriers that fly to almost all corners of Uganda and would make it easier for those avoiding the drive.

Packing for your Trip to Uganda:

Practical Advice for Packing for a Uganda safari and the most practical is that you do not pack the kitchen sink – keep it down to the essentials starting with the reason you are coming to Uganda for. That can decide even the type of suitcase that you will need and use.

If you are coming for a Uganda Safari – you will need to pack differently than if you are coming as a volunteer or business visitor – however every visitor while visiting Uganda should make plans to spend a few days in the African Wild even on a mini-safari.

How much you can pack is determined by which region of the world you are flying from since different regions have different allowances for suitcases.

Packing wisely is the key and if you are coming for a Uganda Safari or as a volunteer pack with purpose and pack some things such as deflated footballs, books, dolls, no candy please, stethoscope, blood pressure kits and more.

Africa is different any part of the world, quite different from anywhere else in the world and it takes practical common sense to get the most out your time in Uganda

Nothing is predictable but the wonders of Africa. Often the African ways may frustrate a Westerner.  Things like lack of customer service – something improving, the indifference of wait-staff, hotel management at times can drive a Westerner crazy.

Just before you lose your patience or sense of human – take a deep breath and realize that in many ways we may do things differently, but well have similar dreams of tomorrow

*Rely on your practical Common Sense along with a dash of adventure and awe along with a sprinkle of patience and a sense of Humor:“

Uganda Travel Visa

The most convenient Way for Tourists to obtain visas for Uganda is on arrival at the airport in Entebbe if you are flying.  By land, you can obtain the Uganda Visa at any entry point into the country at only $50

You can apply for the Uganda Tourism Visa online if you want everything settled prior to arrival.  The process in our opinion is cumbersome compared to the visa on arrival, there are photos, uploads of itineraries, plus a Credit Card fee.

For those continuing on to Rwanda – as of January 1 -2018 visas can be obtained at the point of entry.  There is also the East African Visa that allows you to move freely in between Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

What currency can I use in Uganda?

Ugandan transactions are mostly cash based with preference to US Dollars as a choice of International transactions. Credit/Debit cards – VISA and Mastercard – are accepted in many hotels and lodges but you should note that every transaction on your credit card will incur a charge of 5% on your credit/debit card.

ATM machines are found in major towns, have a Visa ATM Card – Master Card can be used at limited banks, forget American Express Cards with ATM machines.

You will also hear a term “Mobile Money” being thrown around almost everywhere you go on a Uganda Safari. This is a new currency for Africa where someone walks to a Mobile Money Agent, hands him a couple of bills and receives the equal amount onto their mobile phones. Its the easiest way to move money in Uganda and is used by many locals. It may not apply to a traveller because of their phone carriers though, but at least now you know what currency that is before you start planning your Uganda safari.

Picking the right Uganda safari lodge or hotel

Don’t be fooled to book a hotel or Uganda safari lodge that has no reviews or not recommended by our safari team. Just like there’re many good safari lodges, there’re also many bogus lodges that will take your money and give back next to nothing ambiance.

Book your hotel through a reputable safari Agency like Gorillas & Chimps Luxury Safaris, who understands the Ugandan market and knows your expectations and your stay will be pleasant at an affordable price.

The choices range from Shoestring to Luxury Accommodations, from hotels that look like they came from the old Soviet Bloc to luxurious Tented Camps.

Note:  Self-Booking of lodges for a safari often tends to lead to mistakes in location and paying more.

The Food in Uganda – Restaurants:

Most likely you will not be cooking on your own unless you are like me and live here. If you are going to cook for yourself I can tell you where you will find a butchery and bakery that is reasonable and cuts meats in western ways. As far as eating out, there are some basic precautions that one must use in order to stay healthy.

Avoid food that is not hot, avoid buffets where candles are used for sauces, this is especially the case with some sauces that will attract all kinds of micro-organisms, avoid fruit salads, green salads, ice cubes, juices where water is not boiled or bottled.

spicy food does not mean you will not get sick. You do not want Amin’s revenge and be laid up in your lodging instead of enjoying Uganda.

Getting a Good Cup of Coffee while visiting Uganda:

Great coffee may be easily gotten in your country, but in Africa, in Uganda where coffee was born and is grown, it is not always the easiest.  In fact, at budget lodges, you just might receive tepid water and instant coffee, that in our opinion is like dancing without music.

If you want a great cup of coffee and you know how to brew one, my advice is to ask the Uganda safari lodge manager if you can supervise the making of that coffee or be allowed to brew a cup for yourself.

Can a Vegan or Vegetarian survive Visiting Uganda?

Uganda – has lots of fruit to choose from – vegetables such Broccoli, Cauliflower that was not readily available, great dark green Salad greens are now available here and there and lodges are growing their own.

We have had many vegetarians on vegans on Safari with us in Uganda and they all had a delightful time and we were able to able to create an itinerary for them that including Hotels and lodges where their dietary needs were met in a most satisfactory way.

Tipping in Uganda

Uganda is not a tipping culture country – however, your tip will be gladly accepted by a waiter, waitress, driver-guide, Uganda safari lodge or hotel staff during your time in Uganda.

What might surprise you is how much of an impact your tip left will have. It is also customary to tip your driver-guide while on Safari and those leading you on gorilla tracking or chimpanzee tracking and wildlife Game Drives.

Tipping may not be common in Uganda but as an ambassador of your country is a good thing to practice. The tip does not have to be large – keep in mind the low salaries that a waiter or waitress receives here in Uganda.

Safety and Security Advice

Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa and Kampala one of its safest Capitals, however, it will be prudent to be wise especially when it comes to money handling.

Be aware of a few things that will protect your valuables.  If you are on safari it is the safest place to be in Uganda.

Health Tips – Staying Healthy on a Uganda Safari

When it comes health – most travelers do not become ill while in Uganda besides maybe some intestinal discomfort, none of our clients have ever come down with malaria.

There are precautions to take before you arrive here and some things to do after you get here.

Most visitors to Uganda will get some immunizations prior to coming here and buy a malaria regiment. All Travelers to Uganda are required to enter Uganda.

We have many modern clinic in major towns in Uganda that will accept your medical insurance card and get you world class treatment if you get a health emergency. For example AAR and IM have branches all over the country. Check out their websites.

Mobile – Cell Phones in Uganda:

You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and buy a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL, AfriCell or Airtel. But you should know that there strict rules to acquiring a sim-card to start making calls like you’ll need your password and visa with any telecom company.

International phone calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia, and North America, at times there are country promotions such the US or UK, other times India and Pakistan.

You can even buy a local phone with sim-card for about 8 USD and give as a gift when you leave Uganda.

Phones can also be used to send or received money both in Uganda and Internationally -World Remit is the best way to send money to you in Uganda.

Internet Access in Uganda

You can access the Internet at one of the many Internet cafe’s that you will find in Kampala and most larger Ugandan cities. Many hotels and guest houses will have Free Wifi internet access. WiFi is becoming more common and there are hotspots in Kampala. Some restaurants such as coffee shops will offer free WiFi for their customers.

More and more Ugandans are accessing the Internet with a smart phone and you can buy data time for your smartphone or tablet.

You can use your laptop and buy a 3G or 4G usb dongle and if you are with a group you can even buy a low-cost router that can take care of up to 5 devices. Speeds can be up to 4G depending on the Network provider – MTN and Airtel are the two best providers.

Electrical Current and Plugs

240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally.

The power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system in place. Uganda can have extended power outages that last up to 12 hours. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another.

In Uganda, you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices. If you are staying they might even have a power strip that will work your plugin

One thing to keep in mind – you might want to bring a book light since nightstand lamps are often non-existent in Ugandan budget and moderately priced hotel.

What to wear in Kampala – Entebbe:

Ugandans in Kampala dress in style There is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari As Ugandans say “You are looking Smart”

When you come for a Uganda Safari one of the things that will amaze you is to see how well Ugandans dress in towns such as Kampala.

Short skirts such as mini-skirts – are not recommended – the style of dress for most of Africa is smart but conservative and that applies to women and men.

Shorts – in Uganda the only people you will find in shorts are school-boys – though if you are a visitor – no such thing would ever be said.

It is good to have one more outfit with you for functions that you might attend such as church – a special dinner, etc.

What to Wear while Gorilla Trekking

The Weather and Climate in Uganda – East Africa

Uganda’s year around Holiday Weather – Is just another plus for a Uganda Safari. The Weather and Climate in Uganda Best Times of the Year to track Mountain Gorillas would be the dry seasons Uganda has the gift of Holiday weather year around.

There are two reasons, one is its place on the equator and the other reason is Uganda’s elevation. We have two rainy seasons, but even during them most would consider it Holiday Weather all – year-long.

One of the nice things about Uganda is that the sun will come out even during the rainy seasons of the year. For the most part, we do not have dryers or even washing machines – normally all laundry is done by hand and dries within hours when hanging on the line.

North of Masindi it is 5 degrees hotter than in Kampala, however in the Southwest of Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest it can get quite cool at night and lodges give their guests hot-water bottles for a comfortable sleep.

Getting around Uganda

There are various options that Uganda safari visitors have as means of transportation.

There are mini-bus taxis that serve cities and the countryside. You have Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxis by the thousands that offer quick, efficient transport, however with some dangers involved. But also great for budget travellers

There are long-distance buses in the country and beyond to Kigali, Rwanda, Nairobi and even into Tanzania. Mostly chosen by hippies.

The best way is to be driven around in a Uganda safari custom made land cruiser or safari van made specifically for off-the-beaten-path journey – that is the most comfortable safest way to see Uganda.

Top Tips for Women Travelers to Uganda:

Here are the Top -Tips for Women Travelers to Africa – on a Uganda safari, that will keep you safe and secure while in Uganda on a Holiday.

The safest way is for women traveler is to be on a Uganda Safari with a company such as ourselves where our professional Driver and Guides work as guardian angels to ensure your safety throughout your entire trip. Untill that point they hand you over to the  flight crew at the airport or hotels where they picked you at.

There are many things you might want to know, need to know about Traveling on a Uganda Safari but let’s all admit that this post is getting to long to keep up with.

You might wan to click that enquiry link after all. Go ahead HERE

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